Three seconds: the amount of time it took me to leap at the opportunity to attend the IndyHub Exchange Leadership Event -- “How Race Influences Perspective.”
For as long as I can remember, discussions surrounding diversity– race, religion, gender, artistic, you name it –have enthralled me. It’s been two years since I stepped into a classroom, and while life is always a macro-classroom with micro-opportunities to learn, this event allowed me to take an hour to fully immerse myself in an important topic with a diverse group of individuals passionate about similar issues.
Through the initial ice breaker, we were reminded how forces outside of our control, such as the economic wealth of our parents, cultural immersions we were afforded while growing up, and positive mentors to whom we were exposed, affect our opportunity trajectory. As the event progressed, it became very apparent that being black, African-American, or otherwise non-white in our society too often means you have experienced more compounding setbacks than your white counterpart. The word “race” makes people uncomfortable. For many, it’s because it is the word from which racism derives, and it forces us to confront the salient historical events that are unavoidably associated with violence, ignorance, and emotional pain. For others yet, it is a reminder of everyday life and the struggles faced. Race naturally differentiates us from (or unites us with) others, and is almost always associated with controversy. Recently, I’ve experienced a trend that, however well-intended, attempts to make race a non-factor by pretending that it doesn’t exist. The goal may be to prove we are all equal from a human rights perspective, which we are of course, but if we attempt to make race obsolete, we overlook what makes us unique as individuals and powerful as a society. To recognize differences, and collaborate through diversity is to cultivate a more empathetic, more self-aware community. We can only move forward if we know where we come from.
Though Indianapolis is not typically celebrated for its diversity, that doesn’t mean it isn’t diverse. As a state known for being the ‘Crossroads of America’ we, as Hoosiers, are at a cross roads on how we approach race relations. Do we make race a non-factor by pretending it doesn’t exist, or do we celebrate our differences in order to appreciate our uniqueness as a community? The forum today was a welcome reminder that Hoosiers are host to many different perspectives, all of which make Indianapolis the vibrant, burgeoning community we all know and love. Ideas, innovation, and shared community await, if only we have the courage to reach out to one another and learn more about what is happening in our own backyards.
Interested in attending events that connect you with other individuals around Indianapolis? Head to IndyHub.org to find more information about upcoming events and ways to get involved.